Above are the six stages commonly found in patients who have been exposed to excessive amounts of Tsuyama's Death Dust Extractor. After conducting groundbreaking experiments involving thorough observations of unsuspecting crust punks in their natural habitat, scientists around the world have reached a consensus. They came to the conclusion that prolonged listens of DDE (in this case, "prolonged" means any length of time superior to six minutes) led to to high concentrations of DDE's music in your blood stream and could cause fits, dementia, nausea, insomnia, nervous breakdowns and even, in the most extreme cases, a near total loss of hearing. The six above-stated stages stress the steady aggravation of symptoms in tested subjects: firstly, utter surprise; secondly, genuine enthusiasm and appreciation; thirdly, excessive excitement and the progressive loss of control over speech abilities; fourthly, a stark decrease of the basic brain functions; fifthly, the eventual total collapse of the patient and the potential development of the aforementioned sequelae; sixthly (this only concerns people who have listened to the full DDE discography in one sitting) death by noize.
As with any artists (in the broadest sense of the term, even shite ones), the subjective context of the first encounter always influences and defines the perception one will have of bands. Years may pass, knowledge may accumulate, appreciations of previously cryptic genres may improve, records may seriously reduce and slowly threaten your living space, still the first impression will remain imprinted on your mind. For instance, listening to Sick of it All for the first time, as a young and vastly ignorant lad, just after being mercilessly and repeatedly high-kicked in the "pit" - a word you were not even familiar with - by a jersey-wearing bodybuilder at a hardcore gig you had no idea implied an expertise in martial arts will forever trigger hard feelings about the NYHC genre and its practitioners (not to mention phantom pain in your dignity) and make any sincere attempt at relating to the band impossible. Context and knowledge matter.
An instant grasp of and liking to DDE's work must imply that you were really (REALLY) into noizy Japanese hardcore, old-school noisecore and crasher crust. Otherwise, DDE must sound either unbearable (unless you work with circular saws and like the sound of them so much that you need to hear it even on your free time), contemptible ("this is preposterous, back in my day we had proper music like Dire Straits or Genesis"), absurd ("is it some kind of avantgarde performance?"), ridiculously funny ("whaaaaat? I mean like laughing emoji") or plainly unintelligible which is of course the healthiest intellectual position ("I don't quite understand what is going one here but, in the name of Chaos UK and Disorder, one day I shall!"). What I mean is that DDE belongs to that category of hardcore bands that requires a solid connoisseurship in punk history, an acute sense of diachroneity and synchronicity and an ear for referentiality beforehand in order to be relatable. Of course, anything can be relatable on a primitive level, which is perfectly fine as punk music is very immediate, but then you don't really need to be reading blogs to do that and just have to click on the "play" button of a youtube video and relish the comments below, you plebeian bastards.
Like for Morne, I first heard of DDE through the Profane Existence message board. Reminiscing about the years when I would check out - and sometimes contribute to - this board daily, I came to realize that the amount of bands I chanced upon while browsing carefully the many threads was far from negligible. Quite the contrary in fact as many knowledgeable punks, conversant in the arts of obscure hardcore bands - commonly called "nerds" in the real world although this crowd tends to prefer the term "experts" - congregated on the board. And it is now an established fact, oft proved by science, that, where punk nerds gather in unison, discussions about Japanese hardcore is never far out of the picture and heated, and sometimes very uncivil, debates about the merits of Gai and Kuro can erupt at any moments, making the presence of accomlpished moderators necessary. I must have read about DDE around 2008, probably around the time of the release of the Slay Your Master or Slave in Chain Ep that materialized that following year. Were DDE widely known before the late noughties and the band's vinyl productions? I doubt it, although I am sure that copies of their two first demos - both from 2003 but with the first one apparently being a "live demo" that I am not familiar with but has a similar setlist to the studio one - must have circulated clandestinely among those who had Japanese penpals and among the hardcore elite (membership cards were not issued liberally). In any case, the band must have been deemed good, distorted and savage enough for a release on the Crust War, a label I was proudly loyal to with a name which, had I been less of a wimp, I would have scarified on my chest.
But back to the demo. So what about DDE's first studio recording then? Well, it is everything you are entitled to expect from a Japanese crust band who took its name from a Sore Throat song, by which I mean from a burst of noise since "Death dust extractor" was included on Sore Throat's early demo from 1987, Aural Butchery (a very tautological title in the present case). The influences of DDE on this recording could not be more transparent, early Doom, early Extreme Noise Terror and, well, Sore Throat. DDE's attempt at sounding just like Sore Throat was extremely impressive, and, were it not for an additional layer of guitar distortion, one would swear that the recording was in fact a lost tape from Huddersfield's infamous noise-makers. At that point, DDE were to Sore Throat what Disclose were to Discharge. The cover of their demo used Never Mind the Napalm's famous visual with the two buses (I don't need to remind you what the beef was in the late 80's and who it involved) and DDE went as far as covering Shitlickers's "War system" just like Sore Throat, in an act of nodding to the nod, of covering the cover itself.
Of course, you could very well name some meaningful Japanese bands as early influences too, acts like Abraham Cross (probably the closest to DDE's artistry), Mindsuck, Reality Crisis or Gloom (although they were not as versatile as the Osaka's crasher crust pioneers then) who built on similar premises consisting in working with the utmost seriousness on hyperbolic referentiality and on sound textures, although the latter was not as accomplished as it would eventually become. Because - when I first made the acquaintance of DDE - Doom, Sore Throat, ENT and all the early cavemen crust bands were absolute favourite of mine I quite enjoyed this 9 minute-long demo in spite of - rather than because of - the obvious Sore Throat copying (I was not as sensitive to the poetical arts of absolute worship back then), and because I already had records from Abraham Cross, SDS or Disdomestic Violence I understood, at least partly, what the band was trying to achieve, the nature of their proclamatory intent and how it fitted in the tradition of Japanese crust music.
I made a mental note to give the upcoming Ep a listen, which I did after its release (there was a cdr version of Slay Your Master so it might have been floating on soulseek before the vinyl version) but, to be honest, I was not particularly impressed by its blown-out chaotic sound and the techno song at the end made me discard the geezer without a second thought. My dislike of electronic music has always run deep and, to this day, I remain largely unimpressed with it. My hasty and ill-informed dismissal of the Ep led me to disregard the band and pretty much forget about it, which feels odd to write now, even as I progressively became more and more interested in the specifics of Japanese crust and impressed with how accurate they were in terms of linkage. And then I came across a second-hand copy of their Chainsaw Mayhem one-sided Ep from 2013 and thought that it sounded much better than I thought it would and quite close to the Sore Throat/Doom worship that I remembered their demo sounding like. The discrepancy between the demo and the first Ep can be easily explained as the lineup changed completely in the meantime and only the singer Shinsuke remained. The 2008 team was made up of Miya, later in Ferocious X an Black Hole, on the bass, Zerotsu, from Laukaus and No Survivors, on the drums and Age, from the mighty Disturd, on the guitar who certainly unleashed his love for noize. On Slay Your Master, the guitar is obviously distorted, but not just in a traditional Japanese crust way, as what makes it sound different to the other DDE's recordings lies in its layered noisiness, dissonant leads and hyperbolic feedbacks that goes further than Gloom and is very close to the Kyushu classic noize hardcore sound of Confuse.
The legacy of Japanese noizy hardcore punk bands from the 80's (the phrase "noisepunk" would be anachronistic here and, for the sake of clarity, I wish to avoid using "noisecore") is distinct on the Ep which might have been one reason why it did not quite click as I had some artistic issues with this sort of texture then. I appreciated the old-school Japanese noize, out of curiosity mostly (Stuart Schrader's top ten list of Japanese noizy hardcore records came handy and provided context, analysis and even some biting wit) but was not crazy about it. For instance, a band like Lebenden Toten really had to grow on me (but Gloom and even Atrocious Madness were love at first feedback deals, so go figure...). I understood that the Japanese crust crowd rightfully borrowed from that tradition but when one expects to be sore-throated-to-death, one wishes for a more direct, not as strident and shrieking, distorted sound. But one learns. From the old-school noize prism, the combination of the insane-sounding delayed, reverbed and distorted vocals reminiscent of mental asylums at night and hungover bears with the feedback-drenched noizy sound of the guitar actually makes sense. DDE tried to go beyond the strict and studious Peaceville-cavecore worship - although the songwriting and structures are still all about Sore Throat - through a more demented-sounding carefully-crafted Confuse-like guitar sound, transformed vocals and the addition of an actual techno number at the end. Bands like Exithippies certainly paved the way for such experiments between noisecore and hard techno/dance music and especially Truth of Arize - which I only discovered relatively recently - whose Genocide Massacre Holocaust Lp from 2000 transcended the typical intense Doom/ENT-worship by inserting it in ambient harsh noise music which makes for quite a listening experience (this is definitely not for
poser... I mean the faint-hearted). Or perhaps, DDE's artistic stance was yet an additional Sore Throat tribute as the Brits did experiment with noize too, though in a different fashion, with their totally unmusical atmospherical noisecore bursts and under their Saw Throat identity. Maybe it is all of that.
Can Slay Your Master be relevantly described as a harsh-noize cavemen crasher crust band? A bit of a mouthful, right? I read somewhere online that "DDE were the noisiest band that you can still classify as crust" and I think that is just right. They proved that you could pull the punishing crust worship thing while still bringing something new and fresh (if such a word applies to the wall of noise the band offers) in terms of texture and ambiance (the hand of Habi from Gloom in the mix certainly helped achieve this). I don't think such a template could work on a full album, it would just be overwhelming (like on the aforementioned Truth of Arize Lp) and the length of the Ep - 11 minute long - conveys the adequate urgency and does not let the listener get used to being (too) punished by the insanity of noize (assuming it is possible at all). In the end, the merit of DDE's Slay Your Master is threefold: it is a wonderful example of accurate old-school crust worship; it contributes to the Japanese tradition of noize-drenched crasher crust; and it transcends the genre through the addition of a layered feedback-fueled noizy distortion reminiscent of the 80's, demented effect-driven vocals and even some techno music. DDE's Ep deserves a spot in this series because it is both extremely traditional (there have always been many referential Japanese crust bands obsessed with crust explorers like Doom, Sore Throat and the British pack) and very unique. And in the end, that is how a genre survives, through a balance of artistic conservatism and creative twist (a similar noize-crust stance can be found in the resilient Zyanose from Osaka).
The vinyl version of Slay Your Master was released in 2009 on Osaka's Crust War records and the object proved to be rather austere and only an insert was included. A nod to old-school techno music vinyl? Fuck me if I know.
Now that was a tedious one.
Them buses again...
I remember not really liking this band when I first got into Japanese crust and the likes of Gloom, but something kept pulling me back. I'd start listening to the album and think "this is shit" but end up listening to the whole thing 3 times over. There was just something inescapable about it, like it was hypnotising me with noize. Of course I have really grown to appreciate it now! Fantastic review.ReplyDelete
Also if I'm not mistaken, you may have read "DDE were the noisiest band that you can still classify as crust" from a Reddit post I made a couple of years back.
I can relate to what you're saying absolutely, but DDE are quite hypnotic and keep dragging you back.Delete
Oh yes I might have used your sentence, it was well formulated and to the point. I am a bit of a ruthless scavenger I guess.